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Game Title Blasternal
Developer Lincoln Berry III[links 1]
Genre Shoot 'em up ("Shmup")[1]
Announcement Date January 2023
Release Date To be determined: In early development stage
  • PC
  • Mac
  • "Next-gen" game consoles
    • Sony PlayStation 5
    • XBox Series X
Game Engine Unreal Engine 5.1[2]
Official Website

Blasternal is a fast-paced, brutally intense, arcade-style shoot 'em up, or "shmup",[1] developed using Unreal Engine 5.1.[2] Development of the game began in November 2022.

The game concept was created by Lincoln Berry III,[links 1] who argues in his blog at how, because there were no games like Blasternal for him to play, his only recourse was to develop it on his own.[3] The game's creator also says that the idea for the title just "came to [him] out of the blue one day", and that it is a sort of portmanteau of the words "blaster" and "eternal".


In Blasternal, players pilot a variframe that can transform between interceptor mode and biped mode. Like in interceptor mode, the biped mode is also capable of aerial combat. With the variframe in interceptor mode, the player has the advantage of speed and more directly-focused firepower, as well as air-to-air combat superiority. Whereas in biped mode, the player has the advantage of tighter maneuverability and more accurate aim, as well as air-to-ground and ground-to-ground combat superiority. Biped mode also affords the player mid-air melee-style combat, as each variframe wields a longsword.

The player must choose strategically which of the two modes to utilize at any given time.

Throughout most of the game, Blasternal presents itself as a sub-genre of shmups known a s "rail shooters", meaning: Although the game's graphics are rendered in 3D, the player doesn't always have full freedom of motion. Instead, the player must follow a predetermined path that the game scrolls along for them automatically. However, there are some missions where players can roam freely to explore their environment. Gameplay also features more traditional "2.5D" side and vertical scrolling sequences.

There are also intermittent "run-and-gun" elements of gameplay whenever the player transforms their variformer into biped mode, and includes melee-style combat whenever enemies are in close proximity.

The creator of the game says that Blasternal will play like "a cross between Astebreed and Devil May Cry".[3]

The game is broken into missions that the player must complete in order to earn in-game credits. Credits are used throughout the game to purchase in-game resources as well as extra lives.

In place of a traditional scoring system, players of Blasternal are instead ranked on:

  • Survival Rate: How many missions have been completed, and how long an amount of time the player has managed to survive
  • Earning Rate: How many credits have been earned
  • Kill Rate: How many enemies have been killed, and how accurately in comparison to many shots were fired
  • Success Rate: How many attempts were made before completing the game

There are no mid-level checkpoints in Blasternal, and if a player dies during a mission, then they must start that mission over from the beginning. The developers wanted the players to have the same high stakes as spending quarters in a video game arcade cabinet, hence; if you ran out of quarters to play, then your gaming session was over. In Blasternal, you earn credits for completing missions that allow you to purchase extra lives and continue to play should you lose a life.

The player is free to choose which missions they accept throughout the game. However, each completed mission has consequences that branch-off into other missions as the game progresses. On top of this, the player can make certain moral decisions that affect the outcome of the game, as well as how various other characters might interact with them. For example, the player may unwittingly make an enemy by accepting a mission that has been sponsored by a rival.

Unlike most traditional arcade-style shmups, Blasternal features enemies that do not attack in preset patterns, but instead, learn and adapt to the player's tactics. In doing so, the enemies will demonstrate emergent behavior that anticipates the player's next moves while also avoiding the player's attacks. This includes so-called end-level boss and mid-level mini-boss enemies, which in most traditional shmups, are typically vulnerable due to how they follow a preset series of attack patterns. The developers of Blasternal didn't want players to be able to memorize their way through the game.

Blasternal is hallmark for its unforgiving levels of difficulty, which the developers of the game says was intentionally modeled after traditional arcade games that were notoriously difficult in order to exploit players for more quarters in order to continue playing.


At the time of release, players take control of one of two playable characters: A Mercenary named Ad Azimuth. A second playable character, a mysterious and nameless Bounty Hunter, is planned shortly after release. Future playable characters have been considered by the developers, but none have been announced.

By playing as a "gun-for-hire", the developers wanted players to be able to make their own morally ambiguous decisions that will have consequences on how the game progresses.

Each of the main characters pilots a space jet or "interceptor mode" that has the ability to transform into exoskeletal robot armor, typically referred to as "robot mode" or "biped mode". These transforming air-to-ground / ground-to-air combat vehicles are called "variframes", whereas; any non-transforming exoskeletal robot armor, typically referred to as "mecha" or "mechs", are colloquially referred to as "frames".

In his blog, the game's creator says that he was inspired by anime like Robotech[4] and Gundam,[5] as well as Hasbro's Transformers[6] franchise. The developers of Blasternal hope to coin the designations, "variformers", or "variforms" for short, in order to distinguish themselves from existing intellectual property.


The story of Blasternal is said to take place in a far-flung "untold future" in a distant galaxy that is presumably not our own Milky Way galaxy. The planet Earth is never mentioned anywhere in the game or its supporting documentation, for example.

According to the game's lore, a vast fleet of human "colony ships" that resemble O'Neill Cylinders serve as artificial Earth-like habitats for payloads of humans in cryogenic stasis.


The characters in Blasternal are portrayed as humanoid, but not distinctly dissimilar from real humans of Earth. For example, if a person appears to have green skin, it is due to genetic tampering for the sake of vanity and self-expression. Hence, the people are not particularly "alien" when compared to Earthlings. There are a few exceptions, however, with techno-organic lifeforms, monster-like alien creatures, and a pantheon of alleged mythological demigods that also make an appearance.

Although there are no biological species alien to humans in Blasternal, there are a wide variety of ethnicities and races that are just as varied as on Earth. The human civilizations in Blasternal would be considered significantly advanced Type II on the Kardashev scale,[7] readily capable of manufacturing entire artificial solar systems, or "stellar-forming", as opposed to the "terraforming" capabilities of lesser Type I civilizations. However, there are many instances where specific means of technology are so ancient that no one remembers who the original architects were. Hence, the game presents the irony that a civilization might be so evolutionarily successful that it renders the need for novelty itself obsolete.

These civilizations are also capable of traveling by means that are effectively faster-than-light, or "superluminal", by various means of folding the very fabric of spacetime, similar to the methods proposed by Miguel Alcubierre[8]. In the game, it is stressed as "effectively" faster-than-light, as there are no risks of violating causality, and no dramatic effect on time dilation.


One of the underlying themes of Blasternal is the conflict that ensues by way of widespread caste systems of social governance. The game supposes that the vast quantities of wealth afforded to a significantly advanced species might have the surprising effect of exaggerating the disparities between the aristocratic elite, the working-class proletariat, and the disastrously socioeconomically impoverished.

While the game's creator says he had no political agenda in creating Blasternal, he did go on to say:

"I like toying with the idea that, no matter how advanced a civilization might get, they might not only reach new levels of enlightenment, but also; why not the presumably more ‘negative' stuff? Things like cultural Marxism, for example. And in doing so, such alien civilizations might inevitably go on to squander all the glorious accomplishments that defined them."[9]

Another underlying theme revolves around human survival under crushing weight of unnecessary bureaucracy. Hence, more resources are spent governing and legislating than actually improving the quality of life.


According to the Blasternal's developers, Blasternal was inspired by arcade video games, namely shmups, from the 80's and 90's. The developers wanted the player to have the same sense of high stakes that arcade games demanded, as the player was required to pay a quarter for each round of play. The game's title screen, for example, requires players to "drop quarters" for credits to start the game, making the telltale sound of metal coins being inserted into a coin slot and dropping into a coin box.

Art Design

The cutscenes between missions are fashioned after 2D motion comics. The animation style is based on Japanese Manga and Anime.


Blasternal was developed using the Unreal Engine, and is designed for larger-format screens. It was designed to run at 4k resolution at a sustained 120 frames-per-second, and the graphics are optimized for the HDR color space.




External Links